Saturday, July 6, 2024

‘Brother Lafayette is coming!’


Okay, it’s getting close, so now is the right time to order a copy of Chris Ruli’s new book Brother Lafayette.

Macoy Masonic Supply Co. is the publisher, so click here. Or click here to obtain a copy signed by the author. Inscribed even!

(Mine will read: To the Magpie Mason—America’s third best Masonic blogger!)

The bicentennial celebration of Bro. Lafayette’s farewell tour of the United States is near, so having a single compendium chronicling the legend’s travels, from his landing at New York and through his sojourns across the then twenty-four states, is vital to understanding this thankful nation’s and our panegyric fraternity’s heartfelt honors.

Disclosure: I have not read Brother Lafayette yet, but I will because I want to know the bases for this anniversary bash that is almost upon us.

Bro. Chris will be busy with speaking engagements this fall and into 2025. Be sure to catch him. He’ll be with us at The American Lodge of Research next March on Monday the 31st.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

‘A voluntary league for freedom and virtue’

(Not the source of the speech quoted below.)

It is Independence Day in the United States. In observance, let me share an excerpt from a speech delivered in 1848 during the celebration of the ninth anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. E.R. Roe, the Right Worshipful Grand Orator, observed:

Masonry is a voluntary league for the promotion of Freedom and Virtue. In examining this proposition, we do not ask you to follow us through the difficult mazes of ancient Masonic history. Go back only a single century, when Masonry was unquestionably what it is now. It was then practiced by our forefathers in England and America, and bore its present English name. It is therefore easy to trace it, step by step, to the present hour. And when we say that its progress has been so interwoven with the spread of Liberty among men that the history of Freedom is but an account of the influences of Masonry, we simply state a proposition susceptible of the most ample proof. Long before the cardinal principles set forth in the glorious charter of our liberties had become the acknowledged textbook of Freedom for the world, they were taught around the Masonic altar in our lodges. The official jewel of your Senior to us but the familiar emblem of that equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence: “all men are created equal.” And no well-regulated lodge is ever closed without the reiteration of this principle from the Warden’s lips. That “all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” is another fundamental principle in Masonry. The will and the welfare of the many determine the choice of our officers; and the Master of a lodge, and you, Most Worshipful Master of the Grand Lodge, feel that you but represent the will of the majority. Like the chief officer of our National and State Governments, Masters of Grand and Subordinate lodges are required, at their installation, to pledge themselves, in all their official acts, to abide by the Masonic constitutions.

But the resemblance between the character of our National government and the Masonic institution stops not here. Both are governed by a written constitution; both acknowledge the controlling voice of the majority; both admit no official superiors, but such as themselves have chosen; both limit the terms of office by the previously determined will of the electors. A general and a local government are common to both. The stranger from every kindred and every clime may be naturalized and fraternized in both. “Liberty-Equality-Fraternity” — words which have been linked together and proclaimed with such magic power by the people of France in their late successful revolution, and which now promise to become the watchword of Freedom to all Europe—these have for ages been familiar to the ear of every Mason. Many a listening ear had hung upon the lips of him who fell at Bunker Hill, and thus caught the first principle of Freedom from their beloved Grand Master, the lamented Warren! The leading spirits of Boston, in its revolutionary days, had assembled with him around the same Masonic altar, and together invoked the blessings of Jehovah for the freedom of the world. Long before the declaration of American independence, there were Grand Lodges in Massachusetts, in Virginia and South Carolina, and subordinate lodges were at work in most of the other colonies. In the army of the Revolution the practice of its solemn rites was not omitted; and we have authentic records of “Washington Lodge,” of which General Patterson was Master, and which was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as a Traveling Lodge in the army. Montgomery was an active Mason; Gates was a Mason; Sullivan, Lincoln, Knox, Lee, Schuyler, De Kalb, Lafayette—these were names which adorned the Order then. Finally, that great and good man, whose example should weigh so much with every American—Washington—was an ardent and active Mason.

And now think you this glorious institution, the foundation of whose Temple was laid upon the level of equality, reared by the plumb of moral rectitude and squared by the square of virtue; whose lively stones were, by the Masonic trowel, cemented together with, brotherly love and affection; whose capstone was no less than “Him whom the builders rejected,” but who “has now become the head-stone of the corner;” whose boundaries were vast as from east to west, from north to south, and within whose solemn precincts were equally welcome the men of every clime, and upon whose sacred altar the Holy Bible lay always open, guiding them and urging them to that active virtue which manifests itself in brotherly love, relief and truth; think you that Masonry, who first taught her votaries the golden rules of freedom and equality among themselves, did not thereby aid in the awaking that longing for Political Liberty which first lighted the torch of Revolution at Lexington and Concord? Aye! Masonry was at Bunker Hill! She saw the life-blood flow when Warren fell, but faltered not. She accompanied the little army through the terrible struggle which succeeded, and whispered her immutable principles into the ear of Washington. She followed Franklin to the hall of Congress, and watched over the national council. The Declaration of Independence had made her principles the political creed of a nation; and when the storm of war was over, and triumphant Peace saw the assembled representatives of the nation consulting upon a future form of government, who shall say that she did not aid in tempering the rancor of sectional discord, and thus promote that Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, which brought their deliberations to so happy an end!

And now let us reply to the oft-repeated charge, in times of persecution, that Masonry is a political institution. Truly it is even so! But that its influences are of a partisan character; that it ever sustains one party, composed of its members, and opposes another, which is not; that it ever plots for political power; that it ever kneels for political favor; that it ever swerves from political duty, or shrinks from its responsibility, is false! Within the halls of Masonry the din of political discord is never heard. Around her altars gather not only the men of every clime—Christian, Jew, Mahometan and heathen—all who are willing and worthy to join the league of Brotherly Love, but every sect and every party of each. And he who thinks that Masonry can harmonize all these, till they shall come together for a common government or common creed, would give her superhuman power. No, no. The follower of Mahomet leaves his turban and his crescent at the door; the Christian takes his Jewish brother by the hand, and leaving without the emblematic cross, which separates their faith, they approach the shrine of Masonry together, and bow before the altar of Jehovah, the common God of all.

But there is a mode in which Masonry exerts a political influence—by teaching to its votaries the principles of equality, the necessity of law, the duty of subordination, and the excellence of order in all things. The influence of Masonry is, then, of a general, not of a partisan nature. It prepares men for the reception of political freedom; but that freedom is based upon the most perfect submission to the authority which the majority have chosen to rule. And this is the true reason why tyrants in all countries have opposed its progress. The doctrine that “all men are created equal,” is incompatible with arbitrary power.

(Source: Jewels of Masonic Oratory, New York, 1900.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

‘Research lodge to visit Delaware’

The details of Civil War Lodge of Research 1865’s meeting this month in Delaware have been announced.

The brethren and their ladies will gather for dinner at six on Friday, July 12 at Texas Roadhouse in Middletown. The research lodge will meet at Jackson Lodge 19 in Delaware City the following morning. Refreshments at 9 a.m. The meeting at ten. Then we’ll go to lunch at 11:30.

University of Delaware

Then we will commute to Fort Delaware for an afternoon tour of the historic site, which will include a boat ride to the prison, where Confederate soldiers were interned.

The day will culminate with dinner at 6 p.m., although I’m sure there will be drinks at the hotel afterward.

I’ll simply drive down for the day.

The lodge’s calendar for 2025 also has been posted, and it looks like I won’t be able to attend any of the meetings in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama. The lodge is chartered by the Grand Lodge of Virginia, but it receives dispensation to travel and hold meetings outside the Commonwealth, focusing on locales relevant to the U.S. Civil War.

RW Gary Heinmiller

A call for papers always is open, but I’m not sure if research papers comprise a big part of the lodge’s activities. At some point, likely after I exit the East of The ALR, I will look into the story of New York’s eleven short-lived military lodges during the war, and hopefully assemble a narrative out of that.

Monday, July 1, 2024

‘Moon lodge’s festive board by lantern light’


Warren Lodge 32, New York’s last moon lodge, will host its third annual festive board by lantern light next month. Here are the details:

Click to enlarge.

I enjoyed the first two, but I cannot attend this one. You should go though!

Sunday, June 30, 2024

‘Announcing the Council for Freemasonry’


This recent media-generated canard in England about Freemasonry being misogynist has resulted in the grand lodges there organizing the Council for Freemasonry in England and Wales to facilitate cooperation among the three groups and to give a unified voice when speaking outside the Masonic world. The council was revealed Saturday. From the publicity:

Council for Freemasonry
in England and Wales:
Underpinning the Continued
Progress of Freemasonry

In an unprecedented and historic move to dispel misconceptions and address challenges, English Freemasonry has announced the creation of the Council for Freemasonry, covering female as well as male members in England and Wales.

This new Council aims to enhance further existing and longstanding collaboration and promote the fundamental principles of Freemasonry, including merit, tolerance, diversity, and inclusion, between the United Grand Lodge of England, the Order of Women Freemasons, and the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons.

Even in 2024 Freemasonry continues to face various unfounded criticisms and inaccurate misconceptions, often stemming from deep-rooted prejudices or preconceived falsehoods. Contrary to the erroneous claim that Freemasonry is exclusively male, women’s Freemasonry has been an integral part of Freemasonry in the UK for more than a century. While Freemasonry is practiced in single-sex lodges, this is no different from many other activities, including most sports as well as many other community groups.

The establishment of the Council for Freemasonry will formally establish an overarching forum for collaboration. In addition, the Council will bring together the community service ambitions of all three bodies, coordinate communication and engagement with other organizations, drive the membership growth ambitions, particularly for women Freemasons, and allocate resources and facilities for the general benefit of both male and female Freemasonry.


The Council will include the heads of each Grand Lodge, and each Grand Lodge will provide the president for a twelve-month period, chairing Council meetings in strict rotation. The president for the first two years will come from the OWF and HFAF, with UGLE covering the third year.

The formation of the Council for Freemasonry in England and Wales marks a pivotal step towards enhancing cooperation, addressing misconceptions, and promoting the values of Freemasonry. This historic initiative reaffirms Freemasonry’s commitment to integrity, friendship, respect, and service, while keeping community service and charitable giving at the absolute forefront of this historic organization.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

‘Masonic Ph.D. program in Scotland’

Magpie file photo
Robert Burns in bronze in Central Park.

A Ph.D. program at the University of Glasgow is of interest to Freemasons. Just my rotten luck, as I’m about to commence studies in trainspotting, but maybe this is right for you. From the publicity:

The Scottish Masonic Scholarship

A Ph.D. scholarship on the topic of Robert Burns and Freemasonry, funded by Scottish Freemasons, is offered at the University of Glasgow. Full-time fees and stipend are included for a period of three years.

The successful candidate will have access to Masonic archives and collections in Edinburgh and elsewhere, and also will undertake some travel for research purposes to other places. The Ph.D. scholar will be expected to work on outreach activity, including contributing to the curation of an exhibition and delivering presentations on “Burns & Masonry.”

The scholar will be supervised and have access to resources from within the world-class Centre for Robert Burns Studies (recipient of the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2023). 

Candidates need to apply by July 31 with a cover letter, full curriculum vitae, and two academic references to Professor Gerry Carruthers here.

Selection will follow an interview and a pro forma application to the Graduate School of the College of Arts and Humanities at Glasgow. Informal enquiries to Prof. Carruthers are welcome in the first instance.

Thanks, Brent!

Friday, June 28, 2024

‘Join the procession at the Mt. Vernon cornerstone ceremony’


Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22 will visit historic Mt. Vernon in October to dedicate a cornerstone following the extensive rehabilitation of George Washington’s Virginia mansion—and lodges and grand lodges are welcome to join the procession. From the publicity:

Freemasons are summoned from across the United States to celebrate the symbolic Cornerstone Ceremony for George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime historic Masonic event as we dedicate the cornerstone of Brother George Washington’s Mount Vernon on Monday, October 14.

To attend, buy your tickets here. After your purchase, AW22 will contact you about your lodge’s participation.

The mansion has been undergoing an extensive and necessary restoration. Washington’s membership in Craft Masonry underscored his character and demeanor and has lent credibility to the good works of our lodges for more than two centuries.

At the request of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the stalwart and dedicated stewards of Washington’s home and legacy, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Virginia and Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22 invite Freemasons throughout the country to witness this historic event. By ensuring a sound foundation for Washington’s Mansion House, we are provided the unique opportunity to serve our Brother and support the preservation of his home and the sharing of his important story for future generations.

The Masonic Cornerstone Ceremony harkens back to the age of stonemason guilds formed to construct the cathedrals of Europe. Laying the cornerstones of buildings in Europe and North America was once an occasion for parades, orations, and general celebrations of the effort. Freemasons continue the tradition of checking the stone to ensure it is sound and symbolically consecrating it with representations of health, peace, and prosperity.

Cornerstone Ceremonies are one of the few public exhibitions provided by Freemasons and offer insight to the tenets of the historic organization.

8 a.m. - Arrive at Mount Vernon
9:00 - Marshaling of Masonic Lodges
9:30 - Grand Lodge of DC Wreath Laying Ceremony
10:30 - Procession of Lodges
11:00 - Procession of the Grand Lodge of Virginia
11:15 - Commencement of Cornerstone Ceremony
12:15 p.m. - Conclusion of Ceremony
12:30 - Lunch on the East Lawn
1:30 - Toast to Washington
2:00 - Event Concludes
Times are subject to change

Order of March

The procession will proceed in the following order:

First Virginia Regiment and Color Guard: Leading the way, they will set the tone for the procession.

Individual Grand Lodges: grand lodges will lead their jurisdiction’s delegation. States will be organized in order according to their date of admissions into the Union.

Subordinate Lodges: Each subordinate lodge will march in its assigned order, following the grand lodge of their states.

This sequence (grand lodges, followed by the subordinate lodges) will continue until all participating lodges have marched and are seated.

Grand Lodge of Virginia: The Grand Lodge will conclude the processional, then begin the ceremony.

Procession Formation: lodges and grand lodges are permitted and strongly encouraged to carry gonfalons (tall, upright banners) at the head of their contingent (flag size only). Horizontal banners are not allowed in the processional.

Prior to the event, each participating group will be assigned a number indicating their marching order. On the day of the event, look for markers with your assigned number to find your designated staging area. A volunteer will guide you to the staging point.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

‘Help wanted: Grand Historian’


The Grand Lodge of New York seeks a Grand Historian.

After serving under several Grand Masters, RW Gary Heinmiller apparently is exiting that office, and MW Steven Rubin, our Grand Master as of last month, is looking for a successor.

Rubin, during his time as Deputy Grand Master, built the foundation for a Grand Lodge that honors its illustrious history. And let’s be honest, few grand lodges have accomplished anything approaching what New York has.

His initiatives, just off the top of my head, include: Craftsmen Online, the Lafayette bicentennial, the lodge history project, the Masonic history project. That last one involves self-guiding walking tours in various parts of the state to see places significant to Freemasonry. There’s probably more, but I can’t remember.

And Gary? I don’t hear from him lately, but he and I go back to the Masonic Light group twenty or so years ago. He is a legend in local historian work way up in the Liverpool area. He has compiled meticulous histories and biographies on Masons. Amazing dedication to preserving information that, frankly, only the nerdiest among us appreciate. Read more about him here, although that is very out of date.

In the graphic above, that is Tacitus on the right. I don’t recognize the fellow on the left, but since he’s smoking a pipe, you can bet he knows what he’s talking about!

Tacitus? Arguably, the great historian of Rome’s first century CE empire period. I got to know him during my college days. Not breezy reading.

Good luck with the application!

(Yes, I applied, last fall. No, I don’t have what it takes. If you know me, you recognize I’m not Grand Lodge material.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

‘It is done’


Or maybe I should say “Now I’ve done it!”

Last night, The American Lodge of Research convened its Annual Meeting for elections and installation of officers, plus other regular and constitutional business. In addition to officers moving up, we have new faces in the officer line. Bro. Erich, who happens to be the secretary of New Jersey’s research lodge, is our junior deacon. He also is a Ph.D. candidate, specializing in nineteenth century Freemasonry, at Drew, and is a Masonic book dealer. A good guy to have around. Bro. Ziad, who presented a fascinating paper last year on Princess Lamballe, is our “Master Mason without,” observing the approach of you-know-who. RW Michael Chaplin joins our trustees team because serving as DDGM of the First Manhattan isn’t that demanding after all. Who knew?

Yours truly is the new Worshipful Master.

How I’ll always remember it.

I joined the lodge’s officer line so long ago I actually was still Master of New Jersey’s research lodge. Sixteen years ago. Feels like about fifty. Since I had a captive audience, I harangued the brethren with my inaugural paper, “It’s Just Common Sense: Thomas Reid and the Fellow Craft Degree.” This is an explanation of how one of the most important philosophical writings of the Scottish Enlightenment, that concerning the Five Physical Senses, came to be incorporated into what we today call the Middle Chamber Lecture.

It’ll come across better in print—if I ever get the book finished—than in my oral presentation, but for example, here’s a whiff of New York’s Middle Chamber Lecture:

Smelling is that sense by which we distinguish odors, the various kinds of which convey different impressions to the mind. Animal and vegetable bodies, and indeed most other bodies, while exposed to air, continually send forth effluvia of vast subtlety, as well in a state of life and growth, as in the state of fermentation and putrefaction. These effluvia, being drawn into the nostrils along with the air, are the means by which all bodies are distinguished. Hence it is evident that there is a manifest appearance of design in the great Creator’s having planted the organ of smell inside of that canal, through which the air continually passes in respiration.

And here is a puff of Dr. Reid’s thoughts circa 1764:

University of Glasgow
Dr. Thomas Reid
Natural philosophy informs us, that all animal and vegetable bodies, and probably most other bodies, while exposed to the air, are continually sending forth effluvia of vast subtlety, not only in their state of life and growth, but in the states of fermentation and putrefaction. These volatile particles do probably repel each other, and so scatter themselves in the air, until they meet with other bodies to which they have some chemical affinity, and with which they unite, and form new concretes… But that all bodies are smelled by means of effluvia which they emit, and which are drawn into the nostrils along with the air, there is no reason to doubt. So that there is manifest appearance of design in placing the organ of smell in the inside of the canal through which the air is continually passing in inspiration and expiration.

Reid was not a Freemason, as far as I can determine.

Looking ahead, The American Lodge of Research will shift gears for this 2024-25 term. For our Stated Communications, we’ll have meetings organized around themes.

Tuesday, October 29
That’s a fifth Tuesday

“Masonic Hall Monitors” will be our theme. Our keynote speaker, RW Ben Hoff, Past Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786, will present his new paper on the origins, evolution, and diversity of Masonic ritual ciphers, monitors, and exposures. Also, RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey, Chairman of the Custodians of the Work, will visit to discuss the research that went into Grand Lodge’s latest ritual book and the upcoming monitor (the first monitor since the 1980s). RW Michael LaRocco, Executive Director of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library, will exhibit choice samples of such books—the antique, the rare, the odd.

Macoy Masonic Supply Co.
The new Macoy Monitor reprint with bookmark.

And the Worshipful Master will conclude the evening with a very brief explanation of the newly published reprint of the Macoy Monitor of 1867.

Monday, March 31, 2025
That’s a fifth Monday

“A Night for the Marquis and the Count” will be the theme. RW Chris Ruli of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, and author of the upcoming book Brother Lafayette, will discuss the Masonic aspects of the Marquis de Lafayette’s farewell tour of the United States in 1824-25. Bro. Huhn, Junior Deacon, will discuss Alexis de Toqueville’s thoughts on Freemasonry, as gleaned from his tour of America in 1831-32.

This meeting will be a small part of New York Freemasonry’s commemoration of Lafayette’s tour.

Monday, June 30, 2025
A fifth Monday

Annual Meeting. RW Yves Etienne to become our next Worshipful Master!

In addition, we will hold a meeting on the road, possibly at New Rochelle. Also, a series of Zoom sessions, bringing together our members wherever dispersed about the face of the earth, is conceived. Plus, there’s always time for a Festive Board! (Bro. Chris planted a most intriguing idea in my head last night for the Festive Board.)

My thanks to MW Bill Sardone, who took charge as Installing Officer; to W. Michael, who invested us with our jewels as Installing Marshal; and to W. Conor, who guided us spiritually as Installing Chaplain.

Congratulations to W. Bro. Michael on completing his year in the East. He made sure we revived our tradition of hosting a Festive Board, and he continued our practice of co-hosting an event with another Masonic group. A good year.

And best of luck to my brother officers. We are in for good times.

Monday, June 24, 2024

‘California streamin’: August symposium’


The Grand Lodge of California is doing it again. From the publicity:

The Grand Lodge of California’s annual symposium, held online and free to all, will discuss Fringe Masonry and explore the Mysteries that Bind Us.

Click here to register.

According to some estimates, there are 3,361 fraternal organizations in the state of California alone. Freemasonry is among the oldest of them, and certainly the most influential. But that influence goes both ways.

Just as many fraternal organizations have borrowed from blue lodge Masonry, so too has the craft borrowed elements from other Masonic and quasi-Masonic rites—from groups as varied and mystical as the Swedenborgian Rite, the Zuzimites, and countless others. Those connections are at the heart of the 2024 California Masonic Symposium, being held Wednesday, August 28. Join Masonic scholars and experts for a range of presentations on some of the most mysterious and esoteric Masonic rites—what is often referred to as “fringe Masonry.”

Join us for a wide-ranging discussion of the ways groups like these have and continue to intersect with craft Masonry—and the legacy they’ve left behind.

Speakers include some of the foremost authors on these topics. This discussion will be led by Gabriel G. Mariscal, the Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of California.

2024 California Masonic Symposium Speakers: Angel Millar, Jaime Paul Lamb, and Joe Martinez.

Read about the speakers here.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

‘Make St. Alban’s Day great again’

St. Alban
Another very pleasurable Saturday at The Cranbury Inn is in the books.

A group of us from New Jersey’s research lodge are making an annual tradition of this. Last June, St. John the Baptist Day was nice enough to land on a Saturday, so to celebrate that and the 300th anniversary of The Constitutions of the Free-Masons—more commonly known as Anderson’s Constitutions—being published, we gathered for lunch at this historic eatery. Today, being St. Alban’s Day, we did it again.

About The Cranbury Inn from its website:

In the mid-1600s in the center of the colony of New Jersey by Cranberry Creek, a mill town began to develop along an old Indian trail that had widened into a road. This road connected the colonies and was becoming a main thoroughfare for colonial travelers. In 1697 Cranberry Towne received its charter from England. With increasing development, a need arose in central New Jersey for a place to eat and drink, get fresh horses, and spend the night; thus, in the mid-1700s (1750 and 1765) our taverns were built to meet these needs of the travelers passing through this area. After the colonies declared their independence from the motherland this business officially established itself in 1780. What is now The Cranbury Inn has been functioning as a place to eat and drink since the 1750s.

We ate, we drank, but it’s a shame you can’t smoke in the place. Conversation remained in the orbit of Masonic history, particularly how one event in the 1800s gave shape to much of what we do today. That discussion just might develop into a conference, so I’ll sit on the details there.

But, St. Alban! I was asked in advance to provide the postprandial remarks, so the brethren patiently listened to “Make St. Alban’s Day Great Again.” I kept it short, but this is my pitch to elevate June 22 to its rightful place on the Masonic calendar on account of this saint having a historical connection to the masons of the building trades.

John the Baptist? No connection to the masons of medieval times. Read as many of the Gothic Constitutions as you please, but you won’t find any mention of John the Baptist. Or of the Evangelist, for that matter. But there is our true patron, St. Alban, in the Cooke Manuscript from the 15th century.

Excerpted, starting at Line 602:

And soon after that came Saint Adhabell into England, and converted Saint Alban to Christianity. And Saint Alban loved well masons, and he gave them first their charges and manners first in England. And he ordained convenient [times] to pay for the travail.

Another document, known as the Grand Lodge Manuscript, that is said to date to 1583, illustrates more:

England in all this time stood void of any Charge of Masonry, until St. Albans’ time, and in his days the King of England, then a pagan, did wall the town that is now called St. Albans. And St. Alban was a worthy Knight and Steward of the King’s household, and had the government of the realm, and also of the walls of the said town; he loved and cherished Masons right well, and made their pay right good (according the standing of the realm), for he gave them 2 shillings 6 pence a week and three pence to their cheer [food and drinks]; for before that time, throughout all the land, a Mason took but a penny a day and his meat, until St. Alban amended it. He procured for them [the Masons] a Charter from the King and his Council, to hold a general council together, and gave it the name of Assembly; and after having himself [become a Mason], he helped to make men Masons, and gave them a Charge, as you shall hear afterwards right soon.

So, personally, I believe St. Alban endeared himself to masons through the act of improving the food and drink allowance!

He is the patron saint of torture victims, so if you ever endured one of my talks, Alban is your saint.

For a smattering of hagiography, see the Catholic Encyclopedia here.

Friday, June 21, 2024

‘In the Reading Room: Craftsman, Warrior, Magician’


The Reading Room, one of the many features of Craftsmen Online, will host Angel Millar next month. From the publicity:

The Reading Room will open Monday, July 30 at 8 p.m. (ET). Our panel that evening will be RW Michael LaRocco, RW Clifford T. Jacobs, and Bro. Jason W. Short, with special guest Bro. Angel Millar.

Our reading selection is from Bro. Millar’s The Three Stages of Initiation Spirituality: Craftsman, Warrior, Magician.

Click here to download your free copy of this material. Click here to find the Zoom meeting.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

‘Lodge to star in PBS history program’

East Bay Media Group

Historic Washington Lodge 3 in Rhode Island will star in a forthcoming PBS history program, according to local media.

The Warren Times-Gazette reports today how the lodge, which dates to June 24, 1796, will be featured on Rhode Island PBS’ Treasures Inside the Museum next month. The following is copyright © 2024 East Bay Media Group:

By Ethan Hartley

New England is a historical spelunker’s paradise. It’s a place where a day trip to any random corner of the region can result in stumbling upon some type of rare artifact or another that hearkens back to the earliest days of our colonial past, or perhaps even beyond that.

Warren, certainly, has its fair share of transportive treasures—both in objects carried down through generations held within historic walls, to the actual buildings themselves. And coming soon to a PBS station near you, one particular local location, and one particularly special historic artifact, will have its moment in the spotlight.

Washington Lodge No. 3, located at 39 Baker St. in Warren’s downtown historic district, boasts a title of the second oldest continuously operating Freemasons lodge in the United States, first opening up in June of 1796. The building has undergone renovations and although it is not technically a museum, the board of directors that take care of the building have been consistently seeking to share its vibrant history with anyone interested through a variety of open houses and events throughout the year.

John Miranda, a member of the board and the Junior Deacon at the lodge, said that he reached out to Rhode Island PBS last year to see if they were interested in visiting the lodge while they were taping the fifth season of the New England Emmy-nominated series, Treasures Inside the Museum. The show, produced by a collaboration of Ocean State Video and Weathervane Communications, took him up on the invite and visited Warren on December 28, 2023 to shoot the segment featuring the Washington Lodge.

Miranda said that the building’s history will be explored in the segment, along with some of the interesting Egyptian murals, and historical objects from the Freemasons of generations past.

“We explore traditional museum spaces in season five and the unexpected locations where treasures are kept,” said Betty-Jo Cugini, series co-producer and owner of Weathervane Communications. “We are excited to take viewers behind the scenes as exhibits come to life, from ideas shared around a table to an opening-night exhibit where unique treasures and cultures come together.”

One particular item from the lodge is sure to turn some heads and pique some interest among historical buffs: a water pitcher that was owned by George Washington. Miranda said it was given to the lodge by the family of George Washington’s quartermaster, but you’ll have to tune into the show to get the full story.

The show featuring Warren will air on July 19 at 8:30 p.m., July 20 at 12:30 p.m., and July 21 at 7 p.m. Warren will share a show with The Sailing Museum & National Sailing Hall of Fame in Newport.

“They were very excited to do a story about us,” Miranda said. “It’s exciting just to have the lodge featured on PBS and to let people see what’s in the building, because I’m sure there’s always mystery about what’s going on in a Freemasons lodge. At least we can now give them a little peek behind the curtain.”

Episodes of the show will be available to watch on Rhode Island PBS and on the Rhode Island PBS YouTube channel.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘UGLE: Enough of this fake narrative’


England’s Masonic grand lodges shall remain single-sex, according to a story today in The Telegraph.

They’ve really got a scoop here, blowing the lid off this elusive mystery kept under wraps by the secret societies. The venerable news outlet cites the speech by the United Grand Lodge of England’s Pro Grand Master during the Quarterly Communication last week.

“There have been two recurring themes from different journalists,” RW Jonathan Spence is quoted saying. “The first is the claim that Freemasonry in this country is a male-only activity and therefore inherently wrong, non-inclusive and misogynistic. The second is, once again, a focus on the alleged lack of transparency relating to Freemasonry and yet another push to require full declaration of our membership almost in all circumstances.”

“Brethren, we have all had enough of this fake narrative and we should state clearly and unambiguously what Freemasonry is,” he added. “We have a proud tradition as a secular, non-religious, non-political, lawful and law-abiding activity in the United Kingdom, as it is elsewhere in the world. Freemasonry is proud of its history of inclusivity and for the last three centuries, we have welcomed members from all walks of life, regardless of religion, ethnicity, sexuality or socioeconomic background.”

“Across the world, most nights, in Freemasons’ lodges, these groups of people come together to enjoy their Freemasonry, united in their commitment to our core values, which this Grand Lodge articulates as integrity, friendship, respect and service,” he also said. “These values are based on long-established Enlightenment values and Freemasonry has fundamental ideals including liberty, tolerance, constitutional government and a meritocratic society.”

The Telegraph’s Steve Bird discovered the secret speech on the furtive fraternity’s website. Click here.

This boring non-story has been churning in the media for several weeks since the Garrick Club voted to admit females to its membership, and a brilliant super-genius in the House of Lords asked What about the Freemasons? Read more about that here. Since then, the UGLE and the two female grand lodges have issued joint statements affirming their rights to keep the same-sex memberships they choose.

Click here to read The Telegraph story.


Friday, June 14, 2024

‘A humble, daring, and eloquent banner’

Today is Flag Day in the United States. This is a holiday, but not a federal holiday that would close government offices and financial institutions. Flag Day has been a traditional observance in American life since 1916; while that may not compute to a great span of years, we today definitely inhabit a completely different world that eschews traditions. To almost all appearances, we have become a people conditioned to indifference toward our nationality and our symbols because of some alleged guilt for which we are supposed to atone in perpetual despair.

Why observe on June 14? It was on that date in 1777 when the Second Continental Congress voted to make the Stars and Stripes our country’s flag.

It was Woodrow Wilson who issued the presidential proclamation in 1916 to “rededicate ourselves to the Nation, ‘one and inseparable,’ from which every thought that is not worthy of our fathers’ first vows of independence, liberty, and right shall be excluded, and in which we shall stand with united hearts for an America which no man can corrupt, no influence draw away from its ideals, no force divide against itself, a Nation equally distinguished among all the nations of mankind for its clear, individual conception alike of its duties and its privileges, its obligations and its rights.”

The fourteenth of June was not designated Flag Day by law until 1949, when President Truman signed House Joint Resolution 170.

Between 1916 and 1949, New York Freemasonry made its own rules which, it could be argued, were befitting of those times. Grand Master Robert H. Robinson, speaking to Grand Lodge assembled in Masonic Hall on May 2, 1922, said in reflection on the previous year:

On June 14, 1921, National Flag Day was celebrated by Masonic lodges in nearly every corner of the State, and it is our hope that this birthday of our Flag may every year be made a veritable feast day in the Craft. Masonry inculcates loyalty to State and Nation, and it is for us, as citizens of our beloved country, to keep ever alive the wisdom, the loyalty, and the patriotism of our forefathers. I quote from a memorable document on “Your Flag and Mine”:

“If anything in the world symbolizes the realization of the dream and aspirations of men, it is surely the Stars and Stripes. It has been said that young men dream dreams and old men see visions, but never before in the whole history of our race had the prophetic souls of men more surely recognized the coming of a new and better age than when Old Glory was first flung to the breeze.


“It is the symbol of the hopes, the aspirations, the struggles, the sufferings, the victories, the happiness, the progress-in short, the very lives of more than one hundred million people.


“The world has never known a banner more humble in its origin, yet more daring in its conception, and more eloquent in its appeal to the hearts and minds of men the world over. For nearly a century and a half it has flung forth a message to liberty-loving peoples of all lands, bidding them welcome to a land of opportunity, a land where there are neither kings nor czars, princes nor peasants, a land where all men are brothers with equal liberty and justice for all. And its message has been heard and answered.


“There were but 3,000,000 persons, or about one-half of the present population of New York City, in the entire United States when the flag sent forth its message over land and sea, and the civilized world laughed cynically at the ‘great experiment.’ But men’s hearts thrilled and are still thrilling at the great experiment which has become the embodiment of the greatest ideal in government the world has ever known. Men came and tasted of liberty and found that it was good.


“Today, more than 100,000,000 Americans—men, women, children—stand ready to defend their ideal with their lives, if need be, even as the little handful of patriots 140 years ago fought and died for the same ideal. Whether they be newcomers or citizens whose forefathers sought refuge on these shores, it matters not now. Americans by birth and Americans by adoption make common cause of the Flag and the ideal for which it stands.”

My honored successor, I am sure, will have a message for you this coming Flag Day couched in his own fearless and inspiring words. I cannot myself lose this opportunity of impressing upon you, men of the Grand Lodge, the nobility and far reaching effect a yearly general celebration of Flag Day would have upon the life and vitality of our Craft, and if there is nothing else in the address read to you this afternoon that invites your attention, I beg your earnest, your patriotic, and your liberty-loving loyalty to the glorification of “your flag and mine,” our glorious banner of liberty.

MW Arthur Tompkins
Robinson’s “honored successor” was MW Arthur Tompkins (the brilliant visionary who signed my lodge’s warrant!) Several weeks later, he encouraged New York’s lodges to commemorate Flag Day. At his direction, Grand Lodge’s Bureau of Social and Educational Service provided lodges ideas for programs they could adopt, plus books, poems, and other relevant literature, including an essay of 6,000 words on the subject of the U.S. flag.

“The display of bunting by Masons throughout the State added materially to the observance of the day and patriotic exercises were conducted in many of the Lodges,” MW Townsend Scudder, chairman, said in his report on the matter.

And, in fact, on Flag Day 1921—at this very minute, actually—Sea and Field Lodge 1 hosted a Flag Day observance inside the Grand Lodge Room. Secretary William C. Prime reported to Grand Lodge how “upwards of 2,000 Master Masons from the Metropolitan District and neighborhood, at which addresses were made by Hon. Martin W. Littleton, Brother Job E. Hedges, by Rear Admiral Reynold T. Hall, Gen. Barbour, and by Bishop Wm. T. Manning. A large delegation of servicemen attended with colors, which were massed with appropriate ceremony, and the occasion was one of dignity, as befitted it, and truly memorable.”

There are many more details to share, but you get the point. My point in this edition of The Magpie Mason is I believe we have lost something. Of course our fraternity is much smaller today, so there is less talent and fewer hands to set to labor, but we unintentionally have accommodated modernity too much in our thinking. We ought to be honoring Flag Day right now. We have more than 400 lodges. Are any marking today’s holiday? I haven’t heard of any.

Our city tonight is polluted with other flags, symbols that divide people, shout for fringe cultic identities, and even encourage warfare. Our gentle Craft possesses an antidote to much of what ails society, and that the simple symbolism of a Flag Day celebration can signal to a weary and uncertain public that they are not alone—that unity with other citizens can be found.